SageTV HD Theater First Look

December 5, 2008 at 12:47 am Leave a comment

On Monday, I ordered the brand-spanking-new SageTV HD Theater (HD200).  This is essentially the next generation of their HD100 unit.

Why did I buy it?  To make a long story short, I have another fairly powerful PC that was doing the same job the HD200 does.  So, I replaced that PC with an HD200, and plan to put that PC to better use.  (It was a quick repair job that involved replacing a motherboard and processor, and since it is now the newest PC that I own, it’s naturally the fastest, so it doesn’t make sense to just use it to watch TV…)

Anyhow, the HD200 arrived today and I’m pretty happy with it thus far.  When I first attached the HDMI connection to my TV and booted up, I was met with an odd purplish interface.  I checked my connections, and they were all tight…  Not that having a loose digital connection is likely to change the color (unlike the old 15 pin VGA connectors), but I tried anyhow.

After configuring the various options (DHCP, Video resolution, etc), I finally found the option for a firmware update.  About 5 minutes later, it was done, and I was met with a more typical looking blue SageTV interface.

I’ve not had a tremendous amount of time to explore it, but the video playback looks very good so far.  We watched Ugly Betty and The Office tonight, and the few visual issues we noticed were almost certainly issues with the antenna reception.  The OSD of the HD200 is transparent.  I’m not sure what it was like on the HD100, but the HD200 is like using the Windows SageClient in VMR9 mode with a decent video card.  (HD content never worked well for me in VMR9 mode until I got an 8600GT card.)  The most noticeable difference between this unit and the HD100 is the fact that the HD200 can run in standalone mode.  This means that you don’t need to connect to a Sage server at all, and you can watch content from your local network.  It will even look for UPNP media servers on your network and let you view that content, like ORB.  From reading on the Sage forums, it will even work with PlayOn, allowing you to watch Hulu and NetFlicks (though, as of my last check, it wasn’t confirmed to be working with NetFlicks).  I haven’t had the time to test this yet, but plan to in the next few days or so.

I’ve read others on the forum complain about the remote that comes with the HD100 and HD200.  Honestly, I don’t have much issue with it.  It has about every conceivable button you could want to control SageTV.  One thing that has always bothered me about my setup was that I needed the TV’s remote to be able to turn the TV off or on.  With the HD200 and my ViewSonic TV, that’s not a problem.  When I power down the HD200, my ViewSonic sees that it is getting no input, so it goes to “power save” mode, basically turning itself off.  When you power it up, the HD200 takes about 15-20 second to boot (I haven’t timed it, but it’s not very long.)  As a bonus, the HD200 uses almost no power, at least when compared to the power consumption of a full-fledged PC.

So far, I’m very happy about the HD200.  Now, I just have to figure out the best use of the PC it just replaced.  🙂

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Entry filed under: General.

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